Beer, trails and nonsense – The True Meaning of Life

I nearly crashed my car on the way in to work this morning, laughing so hard at the latest episode of the world’s best podcast – The Trail Show.

I’d sent in two emails, the first about the West Highland Way and the European penchant for gigantic backpacks, the second an “Ask A Hiker” question about foot care.

Their treatment of my questions was, as ever, very entertaining, but my favourite part was D-Low’s comment being cut in a the end of the show, reading the last sentence of my email: “Beer, trails and nonsense – The True Meaning of Life”

So to POD, Disco, D-Low and Speshul, if you read this, thanks for making me laugh. It’s my birthday in two day’s life and the gift of laughter is the best gift of all.

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(Not) WHW – Day 2 – Rowendenan to Inversnaid

Despite the hard-ground, I slept really well, waking to find the tarp free form any sign of condensation.

Down the hill to the car-park by the lochside, I sat at the picnic table to make breakfast and think up a plan. My blisters are causing me a lot of pain and I was way off the pace needed to get to Fort William in time for the train home.

So the plan is hobble north for the next two days, along the side of Loch Lommond, then catch the bus up to Fort Bill where I can recoup.

 

(Not) West Highland Way – Day 1 Garadbhan Forest to Rowendenan

Woke up at dawn to watch the sun come up. It was great to be able to stay in my sleeping bag, peeking under the sides of the tarp.My main problem was that my feet were killing me. Closer examination made the cause clear – two gigantic blisters which covered the ball of each foot.

My first aid kit came out for what would be the first of many airings as I attended to these two delights, cleaning the area, lancing the blisters, then putting a Compeed dressing over it.

I hobbled around and packed my things away, then set out walking, each step causing feeling like I was being stabbed in the sole of my foot.

Two hours later, I collected water from a stream, then stopped beside the path to make coffee and eat breakfast, followed by a snooze.

So northward towards the unmistakable profile of Conic Hill.

I detoured the 100 m or so off the trail to climb to the summit of Conic Hill to properly take in the fantastic view.

Thence, onward to Balahama for an ice-cream before following the path north along the lochside.

 

(Not) The West Highland Way – Day 0

Set out from home in South Devon at 0900 to catch two buses, a plane, another bus and then a train.

plane

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At 1700, I’m in Milngavie, ready to start the WH Way. welcome

The path heads north and you are soon walking through a country park, heading through the Kyber Pass.khyber-pass

Apart from signs, the route ahead was pretty clear – easy to follow, but tough on the feet.

WHW-path-north

After the country park, the first glimpses of the highlands appears on the horizon

highlands

The route continued onwards, mainly following very obvious tracks, paths and roads

Just before 10pm, I arrived at Garadbhan Forest, 14 miles of the trail completed. Being so far north, there was still plenty of light to get my tent set up; nevertheless, camping sites were not exactly abundant, so I wandered off a side trails and pitched on the first flat spot, feet and shoulders aching and ready for some sleep.

camp0

My (Not) The West Highland Way route

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My (Not) The West Highland Way route – click to open in Social Hiking

My route for walking (Not) The West Highland Way has now now been plotted and printed and to keep family updated. I have set it up in Social Hiking as well, which you can access here.

As with all plans this is subject to change; for each of the mountain stages, I have foul-weather alternates, which basically mean sticking to the official West Highland Way route.

Thanks to Viewranger BuddyBeacon, I should be able to report progress to the map when  mobile service allows.

Nevertheless, can’t wait to get started.

Making meals

It’s time to get my meals ready. For my (Not) the WHW walk, I based my meals on the Groovy Biotic recipes from Mike Clelland!. You’ll need a subscription to backpackinglight.com to read the article, but it’s well worth looking at (Related comments thread  here).

Basically breakfast will be will either be oatmeal topped with a squirt of SuperSpakcle or museli and hot chocolate powder. In each case, I have allowed 4 ozs of dried food for breakfast.

I’ll then snack on bars, GORP, crushed tortilla ships (i.e. Frittos for US readers), nuts and dried fruit to keep me going for until dinner time.

For evening meals (or tea as I like to call it), I am avoiding expensive Mountain House style meals instead, making my own Groovey Biotoic combos:

  • Polenta and cous-cous combo with spice olive oil
  • Pasta with dried pesto sauce and spiced olive oil
  • Dehydatey sweet potatoes with Thai Peanut sauce
  • Ramen Noodles with Thai Peanut Sauce

Dinners consist of 4.5 oz of dried food and 1.5 oz of sauces, which are carried in 250ml Coke bottles which look to be the perfect size.

After prepping everything, I bagged it up in zip-locks into meal sized portions and I am ready to go.

food_for_6days
Food for 6 days, fresh fruit not included!

 

Breakfast oatmeal

My favourite breakfast when backpacking is a homemade oatmeal mix.It’s very easy to make.

Get the ingredientsbreakfast_ingredientsStick them in a bowl

breakfast_mixed

Mix and stick it in a bag – 4 ounces a day is about right.

I eat it both hot and cold depending on how the mode takes me. Stick it in a mug, add water, then let it stand for a few minutes to soften before eating.

Topped with taste sensation that is SuperSpackle.

A truely a delightful start to the day. Kudos to mike Clelland! for recipe

 

 

 

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